Prince Berkant had begun to behave strangely, his sister Beyza thought. Every day he would saddle one of the stallions and ride out before dawn, returning long after dark with a wild look in his eyes.
At first she believed it was the looming responsibility of one day ascending the throne, but when she tried to speak to him about this he would give her a dreamy, faraway smile and refuse to speak.
She determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. One night she prepared her mare and in the dark of the stable waited for him to set out. She followed him many fersahs to a green valley surrounded by escarpments.
Berkant dismounted his lathered horse and set it grazing. Face alight with eagerness, he trotted up to a cave in the cliff.
Shocked, she watched him carelessly peel off his clothes and drop them as he climbed.
In an ancient Turkish legend that goes back to the time of Gilgamesh, the Shahmaran is a creature whose head is a beautiful woman and whose body is a snake. She lives in the land of the snakes under the earth and lures unsuspecting lovers into her cave of honey.
When Dwayne retired from Motorola we sold the house and spent a year driving the Caravan across the USA looking for the place we loved best. When we saw the ranch in Sasabe on the Sonoran border, we knew we’d found it. That was twenty years ago.
It was a year-round thing. They’d come through at night, parties of five or ten or twenty. Some men, but a lot of women and children. I got in the habit of setting out gallon jugs of water, packages of corn tortillas and cans of beans. Dwayne was furious when he found out.
The man cut a Comanche arrow out of the mule’s flank after the fight at the tanks, but the festering wound would not knit.
Crossing the rain-swollen Nueces, the mule died under him and dumped his possibles into the churning red water.
He’d felt the animal falter as he spurred it down the bank, so he wasn’t surprised and managed to leap from the saddle, snatch up his powder and shot from the tree while he pulled his Walker Colt from his waistband. He waded ashore holding them aloft like holy relics.
But the man was afoot and it wasn’t two days before the half-breed Quanah and his band ran him down.
He managed to kill four of them before the Colt misfired. By then it was over.
The man spoke enough Comanche to understand what they had mind.
Quanah Parker, the last chief of the Quahada Comanche Indians, was the son of Peta Nocona and the white captive Cynthia Ann Parker. Among the Comanche, Quanah became an accomplished horseman and gradually proved himself to be an able leader.
The Quehadas refused to attend the Medicine Lodge Treaty Council or move to a reservation as provided by the treaty, so they became fugitives on the Llano Estacado. Beyond the effective range of the military, they continued to hunt buffalo in the traditional way while raiding settlements.
For seven years Parker’s Quahadas held the Texas plains virtually uncontested.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, there was tremendous demand in Europe for Chinese tea, silks, and porcelain pottery, but very little demand in China for Europe’s manufactured goods and other trade items. Consequently, Europeans had to pay for Chinese products with gold or silver.
The British struck upon an ingenious way to reduce a huge trade deficit. Their merchants bribed Chinese officials to allow entry of chests of opium from British-ruled India, though its importation had long been banned by imperial decree.
The production of tea in India by British concerns in Darjeeling and Kangra did much to alleviate this deficit since tea was the one thing that was impossible to find outside of China.
Spring broke late and none too soon for Old Chuck. Winter, always hard, almost killed him. He’d lie sighing by the fire, trying to warm those old bones that had carried him over field and furrow, always by my side.
When morning slanted through the shutters he came and laid his grizzled muzzle in my lap in that familiar way.
“Sure thing, old boy.”
I got up and opened the front door. He tottered out on stiff legs, eyes milky in the sunlight as he sniffed the fresh new air. He did his business slowly, climbed onto the porch and lay still.
He is like the landscape, ancient, fissured, desiccated. He is the last one left who saw it with his own eyes.
His voice scrapes like wind through dry branches as he tells the story he repeated all his life.
“When the Turks came, all of us ran to the mountain. We rolled stones down the hill onto them while the smoke from our burning houses followed us like a curse. I was small and hid in the rocks. They made my mother and sisters kneel as they cut off the men’s heads.”
His brown eyes cloud and he does not tell the rest.
Instead he speaks of the Capital City of Ani and its thousand churches, the silk road wealth that flowed like a river.
“My grandfather’s fig trees were ten meters high, each fig as large as your hand. Oh, how I would love to taste one again.”
In 1915, the world descended into war. Ottoman leaders decided to resolve their “Armenian problem” through extermination and deportation. Soldiers and local Kurdish militias shot Armenian men. There were mass rapes of women. Armenian villages and city neighborhoods were looted, appropriated. The dead clogged the rivers and wells.
By the end of 1915, the Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire fell from about two million to fewer than 500,000. Most historians consider this the to be the modern world’s first genocide.
Ani was the medieval capital of a powerful, ethnically Armenian kingdom centered in eastern Anatolia, the sprawling Asiatic peninsula that today makes up most of Turkey. A rich metropolis, its bazaars overflowed with furs, with spices, with precious metals.
Today it is a scattering of shattered cathedrals and rubble atop a desolate plateau. The Turkish government has erected no markers explaining what happened there, or why.
A measure of knot complexity is the number of minimum crossings that must occur when a knot is viewed as a two-dimensional projection
According to calculation
(yours, or anyone’s)
there are more tangled states than untangled
states. Thousands at least, when you shove
your headphones into your pocket
ready at last to listen
It took nothing for your cord
which is just another string
to achieve a tangled state
though you do not know it yet.
until, five seconds later
A string can be knotted in many possible ways, and a primary concern of knot theory is to formally distinguish and classify all possible knots.
Oh how you swore, pulling
as you picked the twisted wires
with your fingertips
from the pocket
of your too-tight pants
designed for a person half your age
you act like
it’s a personal affront
this tangled inconvenience
how can something so simple
so quickly turn
into such a fucking mess
96% of all knots formed as known prime knots having minimum crossing numbers ranging from 3 to 11. The prevalence of prime knots is rather surprising, because they are not the only possible type of knot.
You succeed, finally
cram your fingers
deep in your ears
the tiny speakers
full of all that music
the soundtrack only you hear